There is a part of How to Train Your Dragon that never fails to make me tear up and that is when, after he says that he is sorry, Stoick sees that Toothless saved Hiccup and his voice breaks with emotion when he exclaims “He’s alive, you brought him back alive!”
Every single time.
To me that’s the strength of the first movie, the emotion that it manages to convey, the love that Stoick evidences for Hiccup (and later Toothless). It’s a movie, in a lot of ways, about family, the one you’re born with and the one you find, and how that family can change, grow, and bring people together.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 surpasses that.
HtTYD2 takes place a number of years after the first movie, four I believe, and the children of the first movie are now adults in their early twenties. Berk is a place where dragons and vikings live in peace. Stoick wants Hiccup to somewhat settle down as the next chieftain and start learning what he needs to in order to take over but Hiccup would rather explore, charting the world from the back of Toothless, discovering new islands and new dragons.
It’s no spoiler to say that while traveling Hiccup meets a mysterious stranger who rides on the back of a huge, four-winged dragon. Masked, the other rider manages to more or less kidnap Hiccup and Toothless and reveals herself to be Hiccup’s long-lost mother Valka who has spent the last twenty years living among dragons. Valka, originally, didn’t want the tribe to fight the dragons, that she saw in them what Hiccup saw in Toothless, only she couldn’t convince the tribe to stop fighting. During a dragon raid she was carried off by the four-winged dragon she’d later end up riding and has lived with them ever since. While in what amounts to her dragon sanctuary, Stoick and Gobber track Hiccup down and there Stoick and Valka are reunited.
Now, other movies might paint a different scene. Stoick might express anger, frustration. He might stomp around, demanding explanations, leveling accusations, and leave it to Valka to soothe his temper and hurt. What’s he do?
It’s Valka who expresses sadness, says that he’d be right to be angry, but the only thing Stoick can say as he slowly walks toward her is how beautiful he thinks she is, a statement that, when you take in the sadness he’s obviously felt at her absence, is so full of love that it’s pretty freaking incredible. There are no accusations, there is no anger. It doesn’t matter that she never once tried to come home in twenty years. Not once does he do anything but love her.
That is god damn awesome.
They later have a scene where they sing this song (written by Shane MacGowan of The Pogues).
The rest of the movie I won’t go into much because spoilers. There’s a bad guy who is trying to collect all the dragons so he can basically conquer everything. There’s fighting, struggles, and loss but there is always, always, family.
While I didn’t see it in 3D it’d probably pop pretty well in that format.
Go see this movie. I’d pay full ticket price to see it again and maybe even a third time.